I love the concept of wabi-sabi, I first came across the term quite a few years ago and my understanding, is that, in short, it is appreciating the beauty of imperfection.
This sits well with my general philosophy of things, and permeates through my daily life. I appreciate the beauty of imperfection a lot! To me a run in the glaze and slight unevenness of a hand made earthenware mug is way way preferable to mass produced fine china with a transfer design for example. I like to see an element of humanity in products, to sense a connection with the maker and materials. I feel uncomfortable with perfection (excepting particularly well designed, functional gadgets, and the correct pitching of tents- there is nothing wabi-sabi about a badly placed guy peg!) things that are perfect and clinical give me the shivers generally, I have an element of non conformist about me that embraces wabi-sabi. to be on the safe side ( how conventional) I have looked up the definition.
I don’t feel like I am far of the mark here, I can now add acceptance of transience, asperity, modesty, ingenious integrity.
I found a lot of reference to Leonard Koren, he seems to be accepted as the person to
I also discovered some more Japanese philosophy about making that pleased me and some that didn’t – like the new fondness for super sickly cute things , is a trend, with the name of Kawaii
I did a technical line drawing to show the exact construction of the jacket, it is very unemotional but informative.
Then I used a fine line pen to draw a front and back view, I added some ink wash to show shadows. hanging it on a coat hanger gave the jacket an appropriate shape. I like the sense of age and drape in this drawing. It is still very analytical though.
I used painted newspaper and drew in charcoal and used a paper blending stump and silicon tipped burnisher to create the rough fabric texture. this gives the impression of a strong hard worn and hard-wearing garment . I now see my first drawing as quite ethereal, it looks like its made of a very lightweight silky fabric.
I experimented with different marks to try to represent the coarse texture of the weave and found that toothbrushes make good marks.
When I applied the same marks to my sketch book page I was really disappointed with how absorbent the paper was and the marks were completely different. I ended up with areas of black that weren’t intended to be so dark so I used a white fine line pen to tone them down, this actually quite successfully added an extra layer of texture- I must remember to try a whole drawing using white on black paper. I used a rook feather – quill and wing tip – to add texture and interest to the embroidery, masking fluid to keep the beads and jobs tears white. I’m really pleased with this drawing. it’s A2 so bigger than I have been drawing, I found the extra space good for being expressive.
A3 drawing on layout paper using inktense with a fan shaped brush and water to achieve the flowing weave of the fabric and a fine line pen to add detail. smaller marks but some really interesting areas of texture.
A technical drawing and a simple fine line drawing showing shape and drape of the Huipuil.
Quick sketch with toothbrush and feather on layout paper. Feathers are the best drawing tools, I should and will experiment with more tools for mark making. I like the varying thickness of lines that using the feather tip gives, and the splash marks from the scratchy quill end.
Soft pastels and erasure. I really like the embroidery detail on this drawing.
Two quick A4 sketches in oil pastel on recycled paper
A rubbing in pencil and wax crayon, the wax crayon picked up more detail.
They are quite ghostly archaeological sort of drawings.
A rubbing of the Huipuil shows just how much softer the fabric is compared with the jacket. I couldn’t do this with the museum exhibit. I like the marks from both garments.
Drawing at the museum was a little intimidating but not as bad as I expected. I did not know where to put my bag and had only my sketch book to lean on. I added the black ink wash when I got home, I think that the drawing was better without it. Not bad drawings, though back to the very analytical detail.
This is more interesting in terms of mark making I think. I’m a little off drawing in pencil though.
I have some photos of the pieces so will do some detail drawing from those. I think that it would be difficult to use more adventurous media in the museum.
Exercise 1.4 Lines and Edges
Dropping the huipuil and drawing the shapes I found really difficult – some interesting lines though.
Continuous line in a sharpie pen- note to self keep windows open next time- I folded the jacket this time, I’ve made a very graphic image, bold but lacking warmth, I don’t know what this tells me about the garment.
Drawing without looking. What fun! some interesting marks but what really stands out for me is that the Huipuil fabric looks so much softer than the Akah jacket – which it is! I will use this technique again, its a really interesting process.
Drawing with the left hand and right hand at the same time, I naturally reversed the image, the left hand drawing is actually the right way around, it also has the most interesting marks I think, the right hand drawing is neater, and narrower.
Exercise 1.5 Collage and creases
Sort of collage; I started with square of tissue paper and blue card cut to the shape of the draped huipil, I added stripes with inktense and water with a fan shaped brush , the tissue was then glued the tissue yo the card creating appropriate creases. Detail added with fine line pen. With drawing it is really difficult to draw the stripes in areas that are draped, I think this may be cheating but it’s really effective.
Painted stripes cut into sections with birds from magazines and jewels for tails. I used an orange background as a contrast to the blue and to represent the Guatemalan sunshine – needs more detail of embroidery I think.
This is A2 and took ages to complete, the blue is magazine cuttings including floor boards, bricks, denim. The embroidered panel includes nail varnish bottles amongst other things and hole punched beads.
I enjoyed collaging but found it time consuming, I’ve started to put different block colours from magazines to make it easier next time.
I used the wrong glue and this collage has remained sticky to touch. Oops – note to self – check your tools !
Exercise 1.6 Detail and definition
Using wax as a resist wasn’t as effective as I expected but there are some amazing marks on the reverse side.
In these drawings I was experimenting with capturing the texture of the huipil, using a resist and an ink wash. Above using a white and blue Markal paintsticks with blue ink. The rough texture of the paper is quite good at representing woven fabric, I used quite a loose blue wash to show the uneven fading of the fabric.
With added stitch detail.
In this drawing I dragged through the oil paint sticks, to emulate the different weave at the top of the huipil before adding the wash, the marks are really interesting and the black ink more dramatic, I am going to use this one to add detail of the embroidery.
Using oil pastels and ink wash, scratching into the surface, I have shown the difference in colours of the Akah jacket sleeve, the texture of the fabric, and the shape of the seam that handstitching created.
A close up of the front bottom section of the jacket, inside and out, using soft pastels, intense, charcoal, water, coloured pencils. I really enjoyed the close investigation. next I will get the magnifying glass out.
Shoulder seam close up. Combining collage of texture I drew with inktense and water, brown paper, pencil crayons and acrylic paint. I used a magnifying glass and tried to portray the texture of the fabric including worn areas. I used acrylic paint in a darker tone applied with my finger with a lighter tone on top to give the beads some form, they are cleaner on the top where they are polished with wear so I added a highlight dot with a paintbrush.
I love this task: Find out about some archive textiles and draw them. My biggest difficulty in the past has been choosing what to draw – ATV really helps with that tricky decision making process.
Thinking about the creative possibilities of the textiles discipline, an important part of your study of textiles is to experience, analyse and reflect on physical textiles and materials. The more hands-on experience you have of textiles, the greater your awareness will become of the material possibilities and limitations, as well as the stories and messages you might create from them. Handling different materials will increase your sensitivity to their qualities, properties and construction and to the creative possibilities of working with, manipulating or developing your own materials. During this course you should aim to build on your personal understanding and interaction with an extended range of textiles and materials. This will give you a strong foundation from which you can develop your own creative practice and further your own textiles vocabulary.
When I read the brief I immediately thought of a hill tribe jacket that I bought in Pai, Northern Thailand about 10 years ago. It is lovely and I have planned to find out more about it. I have little to go on but like the idea of playing detective. What I know about my jacket so far is it could be cotton or hemp, indigo dyed, woven on a back strap loom by one of the groups often referred to as Hill Tribes, I haven’t found much useful information on the internet so have ordered a useful looking book from a secondhand bookshop and will head to the library.
1.2 Substance and story – garment one – Hill Tribe jacket
What is the textile made from?
The jacket is made from woven hemp or cotton – both fibres are traditionally used. There is no manufacturer’s label or an archival label to give me that information. I did a tiny burn test on a little frayed fibre and it turned to ash indicating a natural fibre,the cloth is quite textured with some slubs so I would guess that it it hemp rather than cotton.
How can the textile be cared for?
With no label I haven’t dared to wash or clean it in any way, I have considered hand washing it in cold water which is the method available to the person who made and wore the garment.
What methods have been used in its production?
The main fabric is woven, the jacket has been hand stitched, I can tell this from the size and placement of stitches. the selvedge edge is stitched closely to the edge, there are French seams where edges may fray. I can see back stitch and over sewing. The jacket has applied decoration in the form of embroidery – cross stitch, running stitch – buttons, beads, binding, Jobs tears – which are a type of seed.
Is it hand-made or machine-made?
The traditional method for making the fabric is a back strap loom. The embroidered pattern involves long strips of tiny stitches. I can’t tell if this is entirely handmade or not. The construction is definitely hand stitched.
What textile finishing methods have been employed?
The side seams and bottom have been bound, the binding fabric looks machine made and could be a poly cotton or cotton fabric. The embroidery has been made as a panel and this has been sewn to the jacket so I can not see the reverse of this.
I need to research more into how the embroidery is done.
Where is the textile from?
There are no information labels or archive information. The garment was purchased in a tiny town called Pai in Northern Thailand in 2004. Internet research was not very helpful. I have used several books for research and established that the style and construction is of the Akha people.
The Akah are one of the six distinct groups of people refered to as Hilltribes, Akah, Karen, Hmong, Mien, Lahu, and Lisu each tribe has its own language, dress, religion and historic background. Collectively, historically the different groups have lived in areas of the Golden triangle area of Northern Thailand, Northern Laos, southern Burma. Originally moving from south west and south-central China. I have started to uncover a complex and fascinating history, I hesitate to include too much detail. To summarise the tribes have traditionally produced swidden fields ( slash and burn process) and gathered and hunted locally, moving on at intervals leaving fields fallow and local wildlife time to recover. In recent years they have been under pressure from several sides, change of land use for example low land farmers needing more space moving higher into the mountains creating dwindling areas of undeveloped land. Politics and war creating forced migration.
The Akah people have a strong desire for continuity and memorise the names of male ancestors in chronological order back to ‘the begining of human beings. The Akah depend on their ancestors for life food health, security and when they die their descendents will look upon them for the same.
I cant even begin to imagine that sense of tradition.
Is it possible to be sure where the fabric is from?
It is Akah tradition to hand spin cotton into thread, to weave on foot treadle loom and indigo dye fabric for their own clothing.
Fibre used to be grown locally but sometimes raw cotton is purchased from Thailand.
What problems have you encountered in trying to find out this information?
I found using the internet to research my particular jacket really difficult. Using books I found really useful information but it took some time to find the most useful information, it was incredibly easy to get side tracked and I did not remain as focussed on the task as I could. Sifting information to chose the important facts is difficult.
Why might traceability be important in textiles?
Traceability is enormously important. All of our choices involving getting new (or old) stuff has an impact somewhere. By buying that jacket am I contributing to the local economy or plundering someone else’s tradition? I am very aware of sustainability issues in textile production and ethical implications of low paid, child or slave labour. I make a considerable effort to make mindful choices.
What information are you missing and how might you find out more?
I am interested to find more about the embroidery techniques. I am hoping to take the garment to the curator of the World Arts gallery at Brighton museum to get a second opinion.
What other visual indications can you glean from closely examining the textile samples?
Akha girls embelish their clothing according to age, enabling a quiet dialogue with visitors and members of the same community, I have not been able to determine the age of the wearer of this jacket. The jacket is definitely well worn and is faded on the outside due to hot sun. Incredibly the Akha dress is worn for everyday tasks even though it it elaborate and ceremonial looking, it is not just a national dress it is everyday dress. The jacket is quite dusty around the hem, one section of an arm is a different shade of blue and the weave is slightly different, perhaps a donated piece of cloth? there are visible changes in colour along crease marks under the arms, but no sweat stains like you may find in a vintage western garment, there are ventilation holes, perhaps this is why? The side seam has split at some stage and hastily mended with just a couple of stitches, some buttons are missing, but in a regular pattern leaving behind shadows of un faded cloth, perhaps they were removed to be used else where? Or a button lost and the rest removed for symmetry?
It is well-worn and heavily used, but sturdy.
I have no idea of the age, some garments may use modern embellishments proving their lack of age but a lack of modern touches does not necessarily mean that this garment is old, it is from a living tradition, I can only estimate pre 2000??
I could learn more about the decoration and the rest of the outfits that Akha women wear at different stages of their lives.
Nostalgia is a recurring theme in textiles and within the broader spheres of design and art. Textiles have a special role to play, as we can attach memories, experiences and sensations, particularly to the wearing of textiles or their close proximity
Can you tell the story or guess the story behind the life of the textile?
Can you build up a story of the users or wearers of the textiles?
While in Pai I spoke with a German guy who had been working with the local community for several years. I was informed that a lot of Hill Tribe people were being forced off the land they had been farming and gathering from higher in the mountains, by the Thai government and were selling textiles to raise money to get by. The lovely gentleman I bought my jacket off was super surprised that I didn’t haggle and I think I paid the equivalent of £15 which really seemed fair enough. I was attracted by the shape and embroidery and the romance of a very different culture to my own. Having read more about the Akah people I really admire their sense of community and feel envious of their sense of belonging and tradition. Although we consider slash and burn farming as quite destructive compared to our huge carbon footprints they tread lightly on the land and I romanticise about the less complicated lifestyle. Clearly its enormously hard work to grow, spin, weave, sew, embroider all your own clothes but it must evoke such a sense of pride to follow such traditions. Young girls start to spin at the age of six and spin while completing other tasks! It is incredible to think how far from that life we are in the west and how much damage to the planet we have caused along the way. What a different tale we tell.
1.1 Selecting and identifying continued
The benefit of drawing something that belongs to me is ease of access and complete freedom to explore the garment thoroughly and at my leisure. I need to draw quickly, but I will have the luxury of no one looking over my shoulder!I fully appreciate the value of using an archive, to access things I don’t own, to discover things I don’t know about, to discuss with experts and tap into their specialist knowledge. Its a little intimidating though! I hope to be able to find a complementary garment at Brighton and Hove Museum, perhaps one of the Regency garments that uses cultural motifs from a distant land, I may draw a modern garment of my own that was made in a developing country ( I really try to avoid sweat shop products) this could be a good opportunity to investigate the modern clothing industry.
Coincidence number1- While investigating who to contact at the museum I came across “bite size museum” talks there was one in the Fashion and textiles gallery with the curator Martin Pel. What a pain free way of making contact! The first talk; Lady Desboruogh’s Schiaparelli – the fashion and politics of Ethel Grenfell and the elite intellectual group The Souls, was fascinating, I made notes (in note book) but won’t record them here as quite off topic. I spoke to Martin about the course and he is more than happy to help! The only problem is that he is planning a collecting trip and is unavailable until June. I really want to find out about a British tradition in textiles and the influence of other cultures on our fashion industry so will follow this up at a later date. On to plan B…….
Coincidence number 2 – I came across a fair trade shop in an out of town location that I don’t usually visit. The owner had a small collection of Guatemalan Huipuil that are made on back strap looms and heavily embroidered. They were collected by a friend of hers that buys them from a woman in Guatamala who was selling them to raise money to cover medical costs for her son. We had a lovely chat about what she knew about them,apparently they were a thing in Vogue magazine a couple of years. We agreed that they were no throw away fashion but amazing pieces of work. I fell in love with a blue striped example with beautiful bird embroideries around the neck. So I bought it to aid my education! The lovely lady gave me a discount and let me take photos of the rest of the rail.
1.2 garment two – substance and story – Guatemalan Huipil
Is there a manufacturer’s label or an archival label to give you that information?
There is no label, I did a burn test on a stray fibre from the hem to establish that it is a natural fibre.
How can the textile be cared for?
I would image it can be hand washed, the fabric has a cloudy effect, I don’t know if this is deliberate or the colour running when it has been washed. It would be a terrible shame if the embroidery shrank but a dry cleaner would not take it without a label. I have found reference to washing traditionally been done on the stones of lake
How is it made?
I believe that it is probably woven on a backstrap loom. The embroidery around the neck is definitely done by hand and the hems at the bottom have been machine stitched.
Where is the textile from?
I was informed in the shop that the garment was collected from Chichicastananga, browsing on-line I have discovered that styles of Huipil are very specific to an area or village. I have managed to establish that it matches the designs associated with a town called Santiago Atitlán.
With an enduring traditional Tz’utujil Mayan lifestyle, Santiago Atitlán is the most visited lakeside settlement outside Panajachel. Women weave and wear huipiles embroidered with brilliantly colored birds and flowers, and the town’s cofradías (Mayan religious brotherhoods) maintain the ceremonies and rituals of Mayan Catholicism.
Santiago Atitlán is home to a much-revered, cigar-smoking version of the popular Guatelaman deity Maximón, who is paraded around during Semana Santa (Easter) – offerings of cigarettes and rum are appreciated at any time. There’s also a thriving art and crafts scene, especially on market days (Friday and Saturday), as well as weaving demonstrations. The village is on the south side of the lake and can be reached by regular ferry from Panajache.
There are no labels on the garment , I have no reason to believe that my Huipil is not from Santiago Atitlán. I am aware that often copies of textiles are made and sold as authentic garments.
My huipil is a well worn and sturdy garment, the fabric is thick yet soft with a nice drape. I can tell that it has had side seams at some point , there is a little bit of disturbance to the weave and a repair on one side. I watched some tourist clips on you tube of the markets and observed that many people are still wearing traditional dress. The huipil is sewn at each side (but not cut) and worn tucked into a woven skirt with a broad fabric tied belt, I am unsuccessfully trying to re-find a web site that had loads of information about traditional Guatamalen dress and spoke of weaving and embroidery still being passed down as a skill through the generations.
My Huipil has metallic threads which dates it after 1976 as a traditional garment I can not say further than that. I was told that the woman who sold the huipil as one of a number was selling them to raise money for medical expenses for her son who had been shot. some of the other huipil in the shop where I bought mine from were clearly from different towns as they used different colours and techniques.
I could spend hours researching the different techniques used in Guatamallan huipil, they are fascinating and beautiful. These have been made using brocade weaving to create the designs, the fabric is a lot stiffer, it looks like an incredibly complex process.
Apparently after the Spanish conquest villagers were instructed to wear a particular colour so that there movements could be observed, hence the local variations, I like the story that the colourful designs were developed as rebellious response to this, how true this is I don’t know. The weavings and embroideries certainly contain significant use of symbolism and story telling that has passed through the generations.
I think that it is really interesting how similar the huipli is to the traditional clothing of the Karen people, one of the six Hilltribe groups.
There are distinct similarities in my first 2 chosen pieces -locally made, woven on back strap loom, made to be worn by the maker. Traditional style still worn by local people. In both cases the dress remains pretty much the same as generations ago. In Guatamala the women have more freedom of movement and happily wear designs from other areas, they sometimes use machine woven cloth or commission others to make , particularly the ceremonial clothes. In both countries elements of the modern world can creep in, accessories, modern threads and dyes etc.
There is a World Art gallery at Brighton museum I was hopeful that I would be able to find textile piece number 3. My luck was in, there is an exhibition of Burmese textiles ( many different Thai Hill Tribes migrated from Burma) I am going to work with my first two pieces and then visit the museum to find out more, and do some on-site drawings.
1.2 garment three Kachin costume – Substance and story
What is the textile made from?
The costume is made from cotton, glass, plastic, jobs tears seeds , cane, and silver.
The outfit in the exhibition was really clearly labelled, archival labelling made my job soooo much easier!
I also know that it is by a contemporary Kachin designer called San Bawk Ra who creates Kachin style fashion for Burmese pop stars and celebraties. Made in Yangon, Burma in 2011 it was created for Brighton museum and based on a traditional design associated with the Zaiwa people, who are one of the six Kachin ethnic groups.
What methods have been used in its production?
The skirt looks handwoven it has a diamond pattern woven into the fabric, and sewn on end panels of what looks like machine woven cloth. It is decorated with square plastic buttons in decorative rows and jobs tears.The top is knitted jersey fabric embellished with glass and plastic beads, and some silver half domes with chains and flat, kite shaped ,silver stamped drops.there is a belt of many loose plastic and cane hoops, some are wrapped in cotton thread in cross patterns.
Kachin costume story
In the video accompanying the exhibition I learnt a little about the diminishing numbers of Kachin people and their very strong sense of tradition.
The focus of the exhibition is the Manau festival, this is where Kachin people gather and really importantly dance the manau. The manau is a dance in a long line led by four leaders and shows unity , its brings the people together through participation and shows respect for the leaders and Kachin ancestoty.
Wearing Kachin dress is a really important part of the manau festival and people buy new clothes from the local market of have them made by local weavers and tailors. Young people honour the traditional dress but it is perfectly acceptable to adapt or customise in some way , this seems to be a way of giving younger generations ownership of the tradition and perhaps makes the traditional dress acceptable to the fashion conscious youngsters (also injects more cash into the local economy!)
These new garments are based on traditional costume.
Nostalgia or No?
Do you feel any sense of nostalgia in relation to any of the three examples you have chosen? If so, why? If not, why not?
I do feel a sense of nostalgia, but it is difficult to pin point as I’m not sure of my expectations. I have a strong sense of self (perhaps!) and value my individuality but don’t feel that I have a strong sense of cultural identity, can we have things both ways? I embrace being part of a multicultural society and all the textures and choices that brings but I want a more direct route to my ancestory. I want a special costume and dance and right of passage, I want it all ! I’m unclear whether this is important but when looking at the communities that I have researched, as an outsider I really like that sense of tradition and passing things on, remembering and valuing ancestors, we don’t as a whole do this. We have bowler hats and fish’n’chips, I feel short changed. My thoughts, particularly post election are that the UK as a whole is very selfish and a bit more community spirit wouldn’t go amiss, I realise that there are some really strong communities around the country but really I think we have lost our way, or is it just me?
I have just realised why the learning log is so important, it’s like therapy! I can’t stop on this thread and its going way off track! I’ve no idea if the above paragraph makes sense , its very jumbled, I must leave it there to come back to and think on some more at a later date. I am going to mind map my ideas on identity in my note book.
Was this a conscious decision when choosing your samples? Or could it have perhaps been an unconscious decision in your selection?
I chose the Akah jacket because it fitted the brief and was available, also it reminds me of a long year travelling and gaining independence. I wanted to compare it with a British garment but just couldn’t find one of the same significance
Do you feel that any of your three examples reflect any sense of heritage, whether your own or someone else’s? If so, why and in what way? If not, why not?
Clearly all three garments reflect a sense of heritage, they have also opened a whole can of worms of my own!
In your own words, write a definition of ‘textiles’ in its broadest sense. What materials do you consider to be ‘textile’ materials? When is a material not a textile? Can you identify any examples?
The first thing I think of is the wealth of fabrics available to be used for clothing, furnishings, structures such as tents and sails. There are many ways to create a fabric. I’ve just been side tracked into creating a mind map and as well as the obvious plant/animal/petro-chemical based fabrics,traditionally made by weaving, knitting, felting, tanning; we need to consider new technologies such as laminating techniques, laser cutting and 3D printing.
This is part of the Creating Luxury exhibition at the V&A, it perfectly showcases new technology and interestingly uses plastic as a luxury fibre.
This paper dress by Dispro (Meyersohn and Silverstein Ltd) 1967 demonstrates how textile design has always been at the forefront of technology, materials often developed for space, exploration or military use, then filtered down into the mainstream.
This was an early use of Tyvec type material, celebrated as the potential future of fashion, perhaps the first concept of throw away society.
Textiles have always had medical uses, from sinew stitches, through bandages, to heart valves, perhaps not immediately considered textiles but my thoughts have led me to consider for a moment that as textile techniques are used in the process , then things are textile products.
I have not yet written a definition.
“Textiles are objects made from or with materials that are in some way flexible.”
I’ve tried to elaborate but objects then get ruled out e.g manufactured seems to rule out the precious work of spiders, Kevlar body armour would seem to fit into textile category, as would chain mail. Bike helmets use fibreglass which is certainly a fibre, not flexible as an end product though. Very confusing .
‘Textiles’ is difficult to define. The study of textiles may cause us to follow many threads or spin our own. What a fascinating journey.
My computer dictionary says this ; A textile or cloth is a flexible woven material consisting of a network of natural or artificial fibers often referred to as thread or yarn. Yarn is produced by spinning raw fibres of wool, flax, cotton, or other material to produce long strands. Textiles are formed by weaving, knitting, crocheting, knotting, or pressing fibres together (felt).The words fabric and cloth are used in textile assembly trades (such as tailoring and dressmaking) as synonyms for textile. However, there are subtle differences in these terms in specialized usage. Textile refers to any material made of interlacing fibres. Fabric refers to any material made through weaving, knitting, spreading, crocheting, or bonding that may be used in production of further goods (garments, etc.). Cloth may be used synonymously with fabric but often refers to a finished piece of fabric used for a specific purpose (e.g., table cloth).
In what ways could textiles have stories or narratives attached to them? There is a lot you could think about here, both in terms of the story of or behind the textile and the story potentially told by the textile. Try to give some examples.
Clothing is … an exercise of memory… It makes me explore the past… how I feel when I wore that…
The Louise Bourgeois quote resonates within me. Personal items of clothing hold memories more than photographs, as they engage more senses- touch and smell as well as visual clues. I am certainly guilty (don’t actually feel guilty!) of keeping items of clothing for sentimental reasons rather than practical and when I come across them I am transported and reminded of life’s journey.
When I see vintage textiles I am drawn to consider their story. Western clothing is very much a political , social, economic and technological history of our society. A record of rebellion and subjugation. Changing times. Textiles ,both fashion and interiors are markers of time that are closely entangled with music and art, books and graphic design.
When I look at traditional clothing of peoples from some further flung places on the globe the tale is a very different one. I see strong cultural identity and a deeply rooted sense of belonging. Techniques passed through the generations, motifs and colours that are fluent communications. Deep connections with ancestors and responsibility to future generations.
I think that I approached this task with more confidence having completed assignment one of ACA. I looked at my mark making exercises for ideas of how to represent the different materials, as well as trying to think of words to describe the texture of the objects.
I made some very simple outline drawings of some of my chosen objects as a warm up. I captured the shapes well, but this drawing doesnt tell me much about the textures.
Using a Gelli plate as a means of getting ink on the sole of my boot and to get a resultant print from, wasn’t particularly interesting until I made a foam stamp to copy the tread pattern at a larger scale.
I then rolled some white acrylic paint over the gelli plate and the resulting image is a lots more textural. It reminds me of a photo I took of imprints in a muddy chalk path near the beach.
I saw a shoe box with a de-constructed drawing of the shoes inside so played around with composition a little and de-constructed my boot in my mind.
This was lots of fun – how many ways could I draw felt beads? Firm and soft, light and solid. I tried to just focus on texture so I ignored trying to capture the tones of the coloured stripes. I think that the most successful were bottom left where I used grey oil pastel and a blending stump.
A hat like Van Gogh in acrylic paints- a good exercise in form but not really a felt like texture and the feathers are quite heavy.
Using charcoal was a lot more successful, particularly for the ribbon texture.
Charcoal and oil pastel on black paper. The big button is very metalic, the white pencil for metalic flecks in the yarn works really well and although difficult to see in the photo not a bad representation of knitted fabric.
It’s a very calm drawing, not very dynamic.
This started off as a very timid pencil drawing so I got bold with the shadows, trying to emphasise the drape. This was really difficult, textiles are much easier to represent when they are flat!!!
I really like this drawing, charcoal and ink on news paper( an article about the Ramones), the wool texture is really effective and the images on the paper really emphasise the holes, it exaggerates that you can see through them, it possibly took less time to do than the other scarf pictures, or maybe I was just having more fun!
Stone and bone , having carved these , I feel very attached to every mark on the surface, both hard and rigid, one cool, one warm, both as smooth as I could make them yet different to the touch. As a first drawing I captured the form well, oil pastels were perfect for the shiny surface. To me they are freedom and independent spirit, designed with care to represent that travelling time, they have more to tell, I will delve into the micro surface and work large.
I was a bit overwhelmed in a gallery in Ceret, France on seeing a painting , Femme Oiseau by Joan Miro, (photos in research) on crumpled paper I shouted out loud in surprise! having seen the image in books it was altogether different seeing that it was painted on crumpled paper.
It very much reminded me of cave paintings as the paper looks very like the stone caverns in the local area that are home to ancient art.
I really really wanted to unravel it.
Nice cup of tea, playing with roller printing a background to draw on added some interest to a simple line drawing of one of my earthen ware mug collection. Drawing onto a piece of plastic bag, that had been inked and laid face down onto my paper gave whole extra qualities of texture with essentially the same marks. I really like this back drawing monoprintish technique, especially the crudely added shadows and dots of glaze.the bottom image shows lots of reflections, it is the plastic that I drew on and was too interesting to throw away.
I will continue to revisit my chosen objects, it will be interesting to see how my observations change as I become more confident with my mark making.
Observation is fundamental to art and design and is the essential starting point of the textile design and creation process. Gathering, observing and recording textiles, surfaces, materials and their unique qualities will form the basis for this project.
In this project you’re asked to collect, then visually observe, explore and record a group of textiles and materials. You’ll create a folio of 10 to 15 drawings that visually capture the qualities and properties of the items you select.
I started this task by mind mapping all four themes, taking them fairly literally my initial thoughts on Tropical tourist and Iced landscape themes had a leaning towards the need for secondary sources of material. Natures larder was the theme that jumped out at me, however I think that I always seem to lean towards natural source materials and as the next exercise is about drawing textiles perhaps I could do with some practice with observing other textures. So I chose to explore “Style Lounge” more fully. Style can be used to describe the appearance a collection of artefacts or groups of people, or a time period, or it can be very subjective and about individual preferences.
In a round-about fashion I concluded that style lounge could be all about my individual style! With the following benefits;
Easy access to objects to draw!
Give a little insight into who I am.
Drawing things that I know well and have a connection to.
I gathered objects that I particularly like , whilst being aware of trying to give myself a variety of textures to work from.
I approached photographing the objects as a magazine shoot and very quickly discovered that its no where near as easy as it looks! My first attempts were like a snap at a car boot sale, very inelegant and uninspiring!
The diagonal composition looks a little more professional than my other shots, the photo tells of my love of -hand made, natural materials, walking and gathering, and the importance of a nice cup of tea! The photo was taken outside as thats where i like to be, I added the kikoy as a base layer as the paving slabs looked a bit harsh.
The felt necklace is there as its my favourite winter work accessory, I’m expected to look professional so tend to have a work wardrobes, the necklace is a nod to my quirkier side (I know, I need a new job!!). It’s interesting how we wear clothes to project a particular personality or affiliation. There should be a hat in the photo, I love my hat and forgot to take it off and put it in the picture! You can’t really see the stone and bone pendants that I carved in New Zealand, I added then to give me more contrast in materials. I will have another photo shoot to try to improve the image when I have a moment.
Textures I included; stone, bone, earthenware, knitted wool, woven cotton, leather, rubber, felt, willow, feathers, metal
This is taken from the course notes to keep me focussed and on task:
Course aims and learning outcomes
•allow you to explore archive textiles through observational drawing and develop textile
•introduce you to ways of recording and using colour from different sources using a range of media
•develop your awareness of traditional and non-traditional yarn types and simple textile sampling
•develop your reflective skills and ability to evaluate the appropriateness of different approaches.
On successful completion of the course you’ll be able to:
•develop visual ideas to show a personal interpretation for textile-based work
•demonstrate sensitivity in the translation and handling of colour
•use a range of textiles media and techniques to creatively develop design ideas
•reflect upon your own learning experience in the context of your studies.
Your tutor will be looking for evidence that you’re beginning to demonstrate these learning outcomes in your work. It’s a good idea to apply these to your progress at the end of each part of the course and reflect in your learning log on whether or not you feel you’re beginning to develop these skills.
Escaping the term time and house renovation chaos I was lucky enough to head to the south of France for the two week Easter break. Visiting the museum helped me make sense of the modern artists working in the south of France in the early 20th century- the colours and contrasts, shapes and subjects had been in my vision for days- the delight in the contrast between cold, damp Northern cities and the hot , arid, south is evident.
My note book says ‘Blue skies, so blue! surrounding mountain strata, limestone, evergreen oak, spring buds, yellow gorse,turquoise rivers, bare dancing grapevines embracing the wind! I was clearly charmed! It was a real treat towards the end of the journey to visit the modern Art museum in Ceret to drink in the art born of this landscape.
The main exhibition was of Sculptor Dani Karavan -an artist born in 1930 in Israel, who lives and works between Paris, Florence and Tel Aviv, a video interview shows him as warm, humble, intelligent. Karavan creates site specific monuments with great consideration to the surroundings, subject, and local people, he seems a great negotiator.
“The monumental achievements of Dani Karavan, draw their inspirations from different artistic fields and reflection on man and his environment: sculpture The monument, architecture, urban planning, nature. Conceived as spaces dedicated to commemorate the history and tragedies of the twentieth century, to highlight the fate of a site, to honor, to question the human condition, they are also places of life, reflection, meditation and communion with nature. They invite the visitor to a particular experience seeking at the same time his mind, his sensitivity and his feelings. Conveying a humanist and universal message, they have in common to advocate the values of peace and tolerance. Dani Karavan is the creator of, Port Bou, Passages, a tribute to Walter Benjamin, German writer and Jewish philosopher who ended his days in the small border town. Managing to reach Port Bou by a mountainous path, not without great difficulty, Walter Benjamin, fearing being returned to Vichy France by the Spanish authorities, committed suicide on the night of September 26, 1940.
The materials used by Dani Karavan are evocative of the spirit that guides his approach: the Corten steel, glass, but above all a natural vortex forming on the sea, an olive tree and a quote from Benjamin in tribute to anonymous victims of conflicts: “Honoring the memory of anonymous is a more difficult honoring famous people that task. The historic building is dedicated to the idea of anonymous memory. ” -google translated from the museum website.
Passages looks a very powerful piece and I found the integrity of the project very touching, I was also very heartened by the sketches accompanying the models and photos- strong, very textural and powerful marks that were also quite simple and uncomplicated, doing the job of representing work but almost naive in nature.
The exhibition also presented for the first time to the public the latest creations by Dani Karavan: a set of sculptures and bas-reliefs in concrete, evoking earthen architecture common to many cultures and the universality that connects these cultures together. The textures of the simple forms were just beautiful.
Many of the works in the permanent collection were donated by the artists, I imagine in recognition of the way they were influenced by the surrounding landscape. I came to the exhibition from the small fishing port of Collioure nearby- the high place of Fauvism is their claim. In 1905, Henri Matisse and André Derain. (Matisse who resided there regularly between 1906 and 1914) invite their friends Marquet, Manguin and Camoin, to join them. it was remarkable walking around the artist trail in the port seeing the scenes painted by these artists, the unbelievably blue skies in the paintings are unbelievably blue! The streets and houses were made for the Fauvist style, it was amazing to gain the added understanding that looking at the landscape through my own eyes gave, aided by the air of relaxation and sleepiness that must have been such a contrast to the cold, damp, dirty streets of Paris in the north.
I shouted out loud in the gallery. To my shame. The curators were very relaxed and I think slightly amused. The painting Dona Ocell by Joan Miro was the source of my surprise, I had no idea that it was painted on really heavily crumpled brown paper.
This gallery is truly about education and photos were allowed so here are the close ups, please excuse the reflections, seeing the real painting bought to mind the texture of the limestone rocks I’d been admiring for days, and the cave art that is so prevalent in southern France.
I really was viewing the mark making process of the paintings so here are some lovely close ups of paintings that particularly caught my eye.
Many of the works were donated to the museum by the artists in appreciation of lessons learnt in the surrounding landscape. Picasso was such a supporter and it was a real treat to see his work in reality instead of represented on the page.
Seeing ceramics and how the image wraps around a 3D shape.
I really like the other worldliness of Chagall’s work, this image in particular. It is over 2m wide and has an amazing presense, I had to stand back to enjoy the whole image but it’s even better close up looking at the textural marks on the canvas.
Herbin is an artist that I haven’t come across before and I like his composition, and I really like his colour pallate. It was really evident haveing walked around the town and surrounding landscape , how Herbin and the other artists in the exhibition were influenced by their surroundings, somehow expressing the rhythm of the buildings in the landscape and also the heat, quality of light, and spirit of the community.